Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, and Karl Schmidt- Rottluff joined forces in Dresden on June 7, 1905, to form the artists’ group Die Brücke (“The Bridge”), thus ushering in German Expressionism. This Bremen work is one of Kirchner’s double paintings. It was most likely a lack of money that caused him to paint both sides of this canvas. In terms of its painterly and abstract qualities, Reclining Nude with Fan goes back to Kirchner’s fruitful study of the French Fauves, especially his reception of the work of Henri Matisse, which led the German artist to develop his “soft” style. The model has been captured with immediacy, in a bright polyphony of colors with loose, unsmoothed brushstrokes, without being concretely embedded into the space. Milly Sleeping of 1909–11 depicts what appears to be an exotic bedroom, in which the model stretches out on a divan. Kirchner has found his “hard” style in this painting. The picture has been carried out in dark, strong colors. The hard-edged forms are unmistakable in their black outlines, strengthened by the tectonics of the surfaces. Kirchner took African and Oceanic sculpture, particularly the Palau carvings he had seen at the Museum of Ethnology in Dresden, as his inspiration here. Milly was a black-African artiste, and a frequent guest at Kirchner’s studio. The artist had met her in 1909, when he visited the Schumann Circus in Dresden.


  • Title: Reclining Nude with Fan
  • Creator: Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
  • Date Created: 1909
  • Physical Dimensions: 64.0 x 92.0 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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